ISLAMABAD: Coming down hard on Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that it had given ample opportunity to him through the joint investigation team (JIT) for his defense but he ‘did give nothing since day one’. “He [Nawaz Sharif] was asked about his speech, but he did not answer […] when he was asked about London flats, he said that he did not know,” Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, a member of three-judge implementation bench, said. “Don’t accept, don’t reveal — that seems to be the thinking,” he remarked. The court observed that on one hand the prime minister said that all the record and sources of wealth were available while on the other hand he remained evasive. “We are looking for that (money trail) for past one year.” The court observed that the Sharif family was summoned several times but they said evasive things every time with the impression that they had no knowledge of anything. The matter seemed to be moving towards trial in an accountability court as Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan questioned that whether the matter, after admission of assets, could be decided by the bench itself or be referred to an accountability court. “After reviewing the report and looking over the evidence, we will decide whether the case should be transferred to the National Accountability Bureau or if the SC will make a decision regarding the disqualification of the PM,” Justice Ahsan said. He observed that the PM himself had stated that everything will be available, taken onus on himself to explain money trail and sources of wealth. He observed that April 20 order of the top court had not excluded material already on record, adding that it should be kept in mind that the said order was interim and the court can pass another order under Article 184 (3) after examining the material. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that if necessary the bench can summon ‘somebody’ else. During the course of hearing, Advocate Khawaja Haris, representing PM Sharif, argued on legal objections filed over the JIT report. He contended that the JIT was not supposed to conduct investigation in the way it did. Snubbing the PM’s counsel, Justice Ahsan observed that what else the JIT was supposed to do when it initially gave ample opportunity to Sharif family to place on the record whatever they had in their defence. The Counsel accepted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was issued an iqama (residence permit) by the UAE government for being the chairman of the board of Capital FZE, an offshore firm exposed by the six-member JIT. “Hassan Nawaz [PM’s son] was the owner of Capital FZE and PM Nawaz was only designated as Chairman of the Board of this offshore company but he did not receive any salary,” Khawaja Haris said. The bench however told Haris that explanation could be given at this forum only if JIT did not give opportunity to the PM for clarifying his position. Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the premier and his family members were uncooperative with the inquiry panel during interrogation. “It was their policy or approach to not say anything about the properties and let the JIT find whatever it can,” he remarked. “In his response to one of the questions, the PM said he didn’t see the Qatari letters. This was a total denial and noncooperation,” he observed. According to Haris, some of the cases registered with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were ‘past and closed’ as these matters had already either been quashed or decided by the courts. He contended that the April 20 order didn’t give mandate to the JIT to reopen cases that were not relatable to the instant matter. But Justice Ahsan observed that all matters were intermingled and interlinked. The top court will resume the hearing on Wednesday (today). Published in Daily Times, July 19th , 2017.